History | Jews in Modern Europe
H620 | 6623 | Lehmann

" it will be said 'what was--was, and there is in it no relevance to
law or observance,' still, the refined soul yearns to know the truth
of everything." Thus did Azariah dei Rossi justify the writing of
his historiographical essays published in sixteenth century Italy,
defending himself against the charge that the study of history is
religiously irrelevant. From the Hellenistic authors of the first
century CE through the sixteenth century, there was practically no
genuine Jewish historiography. From that time onward, the writing
and studying of history became ever more important for the
redefinition of the Jews in the modern world, so that by the
nineteenth century, a historian such as the German-Jewish scholar
Heinrich Graetz could declare that "the reality of Judaism is
discernible only in its history." This course is going to look at
the historical experience of the Jews in modern Europe through the
eyes of modern Jewish historiography. The changing trends of
historiography will be explored as they are linked to the
metamorphoses of modern Jewish identities--from the beginnings in
the Italian Renaissance and the German Enlightenment to the
nineteenth century Wissenschaft, or critical study of Judaism, as
part of a broad redefinition of modern Jewish identity; from
Diaspora-centric scholarship in Eastern Europe to Zionist
historiography in the mid-twentieth century; from the exported
trends of European-Jewish historiography in the United States to the
emergence of a post-Zionist school of "new historians" in Israel.

All readings will be available in English.

Literature (selected titles):
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory
(Seattle, 1996). David Myers and David Ruderman, eds., The Jewish
Past Revisited: Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians (New Haven,
1998). Amos Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History (Berkeley,
1993). David Myers, Re-Inventing the Jewish Past: European Jewish
Intellectuals and the Zionist Return to History (New York, 1995).
Ismar Schorsch, From Text to Context: The Turn to History in Modern
Judaism (Hanover, 1994). Paula Hyman, Gender and Assimilation in
Modern Jewish History: The Roles and Representation of Women
(Seattle, 1995).